Oculus VR has announced that it is dropping the minimum system requirements for its Rift virtual reality headset, thanks to a technology dubbed asynchronous space warp.
The biggest barrier to mass adoption of virtual reality at present is, undoubtedly, price. Headsets from Oculus VR and HTC cost a pretty penny, and need a hefty PC to drive them at their best. The official minimum system requirements for an Oculus VR headset called for an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics card or better, an Intel i5-4590 or better, and 8GB of RAM, adding a serious chunk of change to the entry price for the technology.
Asynchronous space warp aims to fix that. Announced during Oculus VR's annual conference last night, the technology is a successor to the existing asynchronous time warp and aims to reduce the system requirements for virtual reality by being more forgiving of missed frames. Where asynchronous time warp is capable of 'inventing' skipped frames based on the direction the headset is looking, asynchronous space warp can take into account full positional data - and just in time, given Oculus VR's simultaneous announcement of a room-scale add-on and its Touch controller system.
The result: it's now possible to get acceptably smooth virtual reality on a slightly less expensive rig. According to Oculus VR, the new minimum specifications see the requirement dropped to an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon RX 470 and an Intel i3-6100 or AMD FX 4350 processor, though you'll still need 8GB or more of RAM. The shift also comes at another cost: while the company's previous minimum requirements called for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or newer, Oculus Rift now requires you to be running at least Windows 8.
At the same event, Oculus unveiled the final design of its Touch Controller ahead of a December release, an add-on sensor to enable Vive-style room-scale functionality, the prototype of a standalone virtual reality headset codenamed Santa Cruz, and the promise of new investment in VR from corporate owner Facebook alongside a $10 million fund for VR-driven education.
More information on the Oculus Connect 3 conference announcements can be found in the company's official blog post
, while a video demonstrating the benefits of asynchronous space warp is reproduced below.